Scottish Commonwealth Games Cycling Medals

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The Medals

1970 – Brian Temple – Silver – 10 Miles Scratch Race

1986 – Eddie Alexander – Bronze – Sprint

2002 – Chris Hoy – Gold – Kilo

2002 – Chris Hoy, Craig MacLean, Marco Librizzi, Ross Edgar – Bronze – Team Sprint

2006 – Chris Hoy, Craig MacLean, Ross Edgar – Gold – Team Sprint

2006 – Ross Edgar – Silver – Sprint

2006 – Kate Cullen – Bronze – Points Race

2006 – Ross Edgar – Bronze – Keirin

2006 – Chris Hoy – Bronze – Kilo

2006 – James McCallum – Bronze – Scratch Race

2010 – David Millar – Gold – Time Trial

2010 – David Millar – Bronze – Road Race

2010 – Jenny Davis, Charline Joiner – Silver – Team Sprint

The Games

Here’s a brief resume of cycling events at the Commonwealths throughout the years, since they’ve been called the Commonwealth Games starting at Hamilton in 1930.

Hamilton, 1930:

No Cycling

London, England 1934:

Three track events were included, the time trial won by Australian Dunc Gray who now has a velodrome named after him, plus the 1000 yard sprint and a 10 mile scratch race. These were held at Fallowfield stadium in Manchester. No Scottish cycling medals.

Sydney, Australia 1938:

We had road & track events in this Games, with a road time trial won by Hennie Binneman of South Africa. The track events were dominated by Australia, winning gold & silver in both the time trial & 100 yard sprint, England took gold & silver in the 10 mile scratch. No Scottish cycling medals.

Auckland, New Zealand 1950:

The 4000m individual pursuit was included this time, along with the time trial, 1000m sprint, 10 mile scratch race & road race. Australia again dominating, with a possible 15 medals up for grabs, they won nine of them, with gold in four of the five events. No Scottish cycling medals.

Vancouver, Canada 1954:

Time trial, Sprint, Individual Pursuit & 10 mile Scratch race on the track, then the road road were contested at these Games. Equal first in the track time trial was awarded to Dick Ploog & Alfred Swift, both clocking 1:12. No Scottish cycling medals.

Cardiff, Wales 1958:

The format of track time trial, sprint, individual pursuit & scratch race continues, along with the road race. Notable in these games is silver in the individual pursuit to Tom Simpson of England. No Scottish cycling medals.

Perth, Australia 1962:

On the track, the time trial, sprint, individual pursuit & scratch race were contested, along with a road race. No Scottish cycling medals.

Kingston, Jamaica 1966:

Roger Gibbon of Trinidad & Tobago won both the track time trial & sprint, cycling commentator Hugh Porter (England) won the individual pursuit with teammate Ian Alsop winning the 10 mile scratch. The Isle of Man’s Peter Buckley won the road race, you may know his name from the British junior road race series trophy. No Scottish cycling medals.

Edinburgh, Scotland 1970:

With Scotland’s first Commonwealth medal, Brian Temple wins silver in the 10 Mile Scratch Race. Also included in these Games was the Tandem Sprint, along with track time trial, sprint, individual pursuit & road race. (The first Meadowbank Track League was also run in 1970 on this new 250m wooden track, it was organised by Alan Nisbet who also won it!). We’ve also got some notable names in here, it’s a star-studded line up, with medalists including Ian Hallam & Danny Clark.

Christchurch, New Zealand 1974:

A team pursuit is added to the format, with an expanding number of cycling events including track time trial, sprint, individual pursuit, 10 miles scratch, tandem sprint & road race. England’s Phil Griffiths, now a prolific team manager took silver in the road race, Geoff Cooke was in the tandem gold winning team, he;s still regularly seen coaching and riding masters events. No Scottish cycling medals.

Edmonton, Canada 1978:

This year really starts to throw some names I’ve seen in ‘The Comic’ in my youth, the same format introduced in 1974 is used in Edmonton. Medalists include Tony Doyle, Gordon Singleton, Gary & Shane Sutton, Phil Anderson. No Scottish cycling medals.

Brisbane, Australia 1982:

Into the modern era now, included is a 100km team time trial & no tandem sprinting, but we get more complete results on the internet from here on, so Scottish performances can be better monitored. Successful future continental pro’s Malcolm Elliot & Steve Bauer took gold & silver in the road race, but Australia are still dominating overall. Scotland’s Davy Whitehall has sneaked into the results, with and 8th place in the 4000m individual pursuit. No Scottish cycling medals.

Edinburgh, Scotland 1986:

Eddie Alexander stepped up and took a Bronze for Scotland at Meadowbank in the sprint. There’s an excellent article on him in Veloveritas HERE. Sprint legend Gary Neiwand took gold in the event. England’s Paul Curran won the road race and a youthful Chris Boardman was part of a bronze team pursuit squad.

Auckland, New Zealand 1990:

Australia & New Zealand battled out most of the gold medals in these Games, with Welsh lady Louise Jones winning the sprint with the introduction of female sprint & pursuit events. No Scottish cycling medals.

Victoria, Canada 1994:

Womens events expanded a little, with the points race added to the sprint & pursuit. Brad McGee & Stuart O’Grady of Australia had a very good Games, with McGee winning the pursuit, O’Grady the Scratch & both were part of the gold medal winning team pursuit squad, which recorded a reasonably ‘modern’ time of 4:10, another era is dawning, the battle between well-funded national track teams. No Scottish cycling medals.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 1998:

A womens road race & time trial added to the format for these Games. Notable names are Bradley Wiggins & Colin Sturgess taking silver in the team pursuit, Jason Queally silver in the kilo & Michael Rogers winning the scratch race. No Scottish cycling medals.

Manchester, England 2002:

Chris Hoy triumphantly appears on the Commonwealth stage with a gold medal in the kilo, then teaming up with Craig MacLean Marco Librizzi & Ross Edgar for bronze in the team sprint (3 riders in each ride, but 4 can be used in different heats). A successful Games for cycling in Scotland, considering the serious lack of medals in the past.

We have a full Scottish team list available for the cycling events as follows. Caroline Alexander, Sally Ashbridge, Jo Cavill, Caroline Cook, Katrina Hair, Russell Anderson, Richard Chapman, Ross Edgar, Chris Hoy,Alistair Kay, Marco Librizzi, Craig MacLean, James McCallum, Jason MacIntyre, David Millar, Ross Muir, Michael Pooley, Alexander Ross & Duncan Urquhart. Although I think David Millar opted to snub the Games and rode a 2-up TT somewhere in France instead.

Melbourne, Australia 2006:

More Scottish success, with gold in the team sprint with Chris Hoy, Craig MacLean & Ross Edgar. Ross Edgar also took silver in the sprint, then a cluster of bronzes, with Kate Cullen in the points race, Ross Edgar in the Keirin, Chris Hoy in the kilo & James McCallum in the scratch race. A hugely successful Games for Scottish cycling, the best ever.

Squad list:

  • Alex Coutts – Road Race
  • Ross Edgar – Track Sprint Events
  • Chris Hoy – Track Sprint Events
  • Marco Librizzi – Track Sprint Events
  • Craig MacLean – Track Sprint Events
  • Gareth Montgomerie – Mountain Bike Cross Country
  • Evan Oliphant – Road Race
  • James Ouchterlony – Mountain Bike Cross Country
  • Duncan Urquhart – Road Race
  • Robert Wardell – Mountain Bike Cross Country

Women’s

  • Kate Cullen – Track Points Race and Road Race
  • Ruth McGavigan – Mountain Bike Cross Country
  • Katrina Hair

Delhi, India 2010:

Professional rider David Millar won the time trial for Scotland & took bronze in the road race, while Jenny Davis & Charline Joiner took silver in the team sprint, another very good Games, with medals in events Scotland hadn’t performed in before at Commonwealth Games.

Scotland were represented on the track by Ross Edgar, Andrew Fenn, James McCallum, Evan Oliphant, John Paul, Chris Pritchard, Callum Skinner, Kevin Stewart, Kate Cullen, Jenny Davis, Charline Joiner & Eileen Roe.

Here are the Scottish riders & results from 2010 in the road events.

Men
Event Cyclist(s) Time Rank
40 km Time Trial David Millar 1
Evan Oliphant 11
Andrew Fenn 14
167 km Road Race Ross Crebar DNF
Andrew Fenn 13
David Lines DNF
James McCallum DNF
David Millar 3
Evan Oliphant 21
Women
Event Cyclist(s) Time Rank
29 km Time Trial Pippa Handley 16
100 km Road Race Jane Barr 35
Kate Cullen 17
Anne Ewing 37
Pippa Handley 31
Eileen Roe 20
Claire Thomas 24

Glasgow, Scotland 2014

Riders selected by discipline as follows (some may be listed more than once if in multiple disciplines):

Mountain Bike (Women):

  • Kerry MacPhee
  • Lee Craigie
  • Jessica Roberts

Mountain Bike (Men):

  • Grant Ferguson
  • Kenta Gallagher
  • Gareth Montgomerie

Para Cycling (Women):

  • Laura Cluxton
  • Fiona Duncan (pilot)
  • Aileen McGlynn
  • Louise Haston (pilot)

Para Cycling (Men):

  • Neil Fachie
  • Craig McLean (pilot)

Track Sprint (Women)

  • Jenny Davis
  • Eleanor Richardson

Track Sprint (Men):

  • Jonathon Biggin
  • Bruce Croall
  • John Paul
  • Christopher Pritchard
  • Callum Skinner

Track Endurance (Women):

  • Katie Archibald
  • Charline Joiner
  • Eileen Roe
  • Anna Turvey

Track Endurance (Men):

  • James McCallum
  • Evan Oliphant
  • Alistair Rutherford
  • Mark Stewart

Road Race (Women):

  • Gemma Neill
  • Katie Archibald
  • Anne Ewing
  • Charline Joiner
  • Eileen Roe
  • Claire Thomas

Road Race (Men):

  • Jack Pullar
  • Andy Fenn
  • Grant Ferguson
  • James McCallum
  • David Millar
  • Evan Oliphant

Time Trial (Women):

  • Katie Archibald
  • Lucy Coldwell
  • Anna Turvey

Time Trial (Men):

  • Andy Fenn
  • David Millar

Scottish Olympic Cycling Team?

Embed from Getty Images Regardless of your political viewpoint, the current media focus in Scotland is on September’s referendum, the very big question of whether or not we’ll remain part of the UK, which has the potential for dramatic change in Scottish life & sport for that matter. Those who regularly read my blog will be familiar with the topic of change, so it’ll be no surprise that I’m dealing with this tricky subject, which is potentially too big to ignore or delve in to. With that in mind I found it worth looking at what changes may occur in Scottish sport if there is a ‘yes’ vote, with particular focus on cycling & the potential for a Scottish Olympic team.

I’m not particularly interested in this blog piece developing into an all-encompassing debate on independence out-with sport, that’s covered everywhere else. This is more of a short study on what may happen if there is a ‘yes’ vote, not on whether or not there will be a ‘yes’ vote. Looking at how it would affect grass-roots sport, development, coaching & our elite athletes currently riding for the GB Olympic programme. I’ve been unable to find much information anywhere else on this subject, so I’m assuming those reading this have not either, hopefully I can fill in some of the gaps of what may happen to our sport if Scotland becomes independent at this referendum, or at any time in the future.

Disclaimer: I’ve tried to provide links wherever possible so you can check anything I proclaim to be a fact (as this is an especially touchy & polarizing subject for many people). So feel free to click away if you’re interested in reading the actual documents that concern the subjects. What I’ve tried to avoid are any statements of fact from politicians of any persuasion, I have what I consider a healthy distrust of political posturing & often check facts in news reports, especially on the independence subject. So check the facts, read the stories, not the headlines & don’t take anything at face value on what you hear or read about the referendum. Where I’ve expressed an opinion, its pretty obvious that’s what it is, I’m well aware that I’ll get variable feedback on this blog piece, but if you spot an inaccuracy let me know & present some evidence I can link to, not just an opinion.
 

Is Rio 2016 Realistic?

I’ll go into the technicalities first, you can view the Olympic Charter online, it’s a lengthy document which shows all the requirements necessary for a sport within a nation to compete. Each sport federation has to be affiliated to the international governing body recognised by the IOC (International Olympic Committee). In cycling’s case, this is the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale). The charter also demonstrates that an NOC (National Olympic Committee) needs to exist for each nation competing in the Olympics (Ch4 pt29). The IOC define a nation as “In the Olympic Charter, the expression ‘country’ means an independent State recognised by the international community” (Ch4 pt30).

As far as defining a nation goes, there are a few different standards which the IOC recognise. Palestine has United Nations Observer State status & has its own NOC, which allows it to enter the Olympics. There are two Olympic nations which have no UN representation, these are Taiwan & Cook Islands (Taiwan surprised me, but it has no UN membership). Meanwhile nine territories of other nations are recognised Olympic nations, the USA have four, the Netherlands & China have one each (Aruba & Hong Kong), while three of the fourteen British Oversees Territories are represented, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands & Cayman Islands. South Sudan, while being the world’s current newest independent state (formed in 2011 after a civil war in Sudan), currently hasn’t allocated an NOC yet, so in the eyes of the IOC it isn’t a nation.  South Sudan’s marathon runner Guor Marial did compete at London 2012, but under the Olympic flag, a nation less athlete but still allowed to compete.

As you can see, the existence of a National Olympic Committee is the most important thing as far as the IOC is concerned. It’s not as hard as you’d imagine to be an Olympic nation if you follow the protocol set out in the Olympic Charter. So far that means that for cycling in Scotland, we’d need Scotland to be an IOC recognised state (i.e. simply have a Scottish NOC formed & meet one of the criteria above), the existing governing body of Scottish Cycling would be required to affiliate to the UCI, so that Scotland had an internationally recognised governing body for the sport of cycling. Rio in 2016 doesn’t look anything like as tricky as it did when I started my research for this blog & reading newspaper articles stating impending doom, it looks like a relatively straightforward process, even if Scotland isn’t full signed up to UN rules by 2016, it can still have an Olympic team at Rio 2016 if an NOC is in place. You can be sure that no politician looking to establish themselves in a new nation is going to let that administration issue slip by them, they’ll all be clambering to say it was them!

What Happens to Elite Athletes

I asked the Scottish Government & the UK Government for information on this subject & how the sport would be funded post-independence. I’ve not had a UK Government response, but was supplied with some information from the office of Scottish Minister for Commonwealth Games & Sport, Shona Robison. I’ll give you a brief summary of what came from this correspondence:

  • It’s intended to have both Olympic & Paralympic teams at the next Olympics.
  • Scotland meets all of the requirements of the International Olympic and Paralympic Committees and would apply to become a member as soon as possible.
  • The IOC is a body that has a history of quickly welcoming newly recognised independent countries. We believe it should be a relatively straightforward process which would mean an Olympic Team Scotland in place for Rio 2016. (Which I think I’ve discovered myself too, as you’ve already read)
  • Arrangements will be put in place to ensure that Scottish athletes were able to compete in Rio 2016 by attending any necessary qualifying events in the lead up to Rio 2016. This work would be undertaken in parallel to the wider governance arrangements required for Olympic and Paralympic accreditation, establishing Scottish Olympic and Paralympic Committees and transferring functions currently undertaken at UK level.
  • Since 1998, the sportscotland Institute of Sport has helped prepare many athletes to perform at the highest level. In the event of independence, elite athletes would receive support through sportscotland which would be funded through continued investment from the Scottish Government and our fair share of National Lottery contributions. As part of our resolutions with UK Government we will seek Scotland’s share of UK Sport funding. This, coupled with fantastic facilities including the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome and a new National Performance Centre for Sport being built at Heriot Watt University, will ensure Scotland is extremely well placed to develop our future athletes.

I’d hope that Scots like Katie Archibald, Callum Skinner, Kenta Gallagher & Grant Ferguson (who are all on the GB Olympic programmes) would experience a smooth transition to a Scottish Olympic programme to allow them to progress correctly. Perhaps we could expand that programme & allow a larger selection of talented riders to progress towards Worlds, Commonwealth & Olympic medals. This is likely, based purely on what we see with the Scottish ladies, competing in the European Classics this year, getting huge amounts of experience racing in big fields, on cobbles, with the best riders in the world. Some have also been competing at UCI registered track events over the past year, gaining the valuable qualification standards to compete as part of a Scottish team at the Commonwealth Games.

In men’s racing, a Scottish team could gain entry to events which currently are open to national teams, these come under UCI category 1.1 (one-day race) or 2.1 (stage race). Also if there are any UCI 1.HC (one-day race) or 2.HC (stage race) in Scotland, then national teams from the country of the organiser can ride. This rule currently applies to the Tour of Britain, but as we’d no longer be part of the UK, a Scottish team couldn’t take part. Some examples of 1.1 or 2.1 events that a Scottish mens team could ride are Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, Strade Bianche, Trofeo Mallorca, Herald Sun Tour, Tour of Qatar, Vuelta a Murcia & Tour de l’Avenir. With some significant investment, we could be providing some incredible opportunities for our developing riders, although Scotland would need some riders who attract the attention (or some political interest, as always) of the organisers to attract an invite.

Working Group On Scottish Sport

I wasn’t aware of this until Shona Robison alerted me to it. The future of sport does look to have been considered by the politicians in Scotland in the event of a ‘yes’ vote, across parties. In September 2013, an independent group named the ‘Working Group on Scottish Sport‘ was set up & chaired by Henry McLeish, a former Labour MP & the person who took over as Scottish First Minister after Donald Dewar’s sudden death. I searched the White Paper for some detail on what would happen to sport in Scotland, there was very little, with the WGSS filling in the detail. This study intends to give us a better picture of what may happen post-independence. The conclusions will be published in a final report. The topics covered will include the following:

  • The action necessary to ensure Scotland can be successful in future Olympics and Paralympics in its own right;
  • The continuing development required to ensure that Scotland remains a country of sporting excellence, with opportunity at all levels;
  • The potential for sharing facilities and resources across the Home Nations and abroad.

It seems comments from people like Chris Hoy (see quotes later in article) may have been taken on-board & acted upon, hopefully we’ll get a better picture in the next few weeks when the conclusions are released in Spring 2014. This will hopefully include what exactly will happen with grass-roots sport development & employment of elite coaches across different sports.

Similarities

Embed from Getty Images Comparing other European nations who have a cycling culture we’d consider replicating, we find Denmark has a population of about 5.5 million, very close to Scotland’s. They have one indoor 250m velodrome & two outdoor ones, again, the same as Scotland. Denmark has an enviable & very successful track team at world championship & Olympic level (Danish team pursuiters pictured above) & plenty of riders in the pro ranks.

As an economical comparison of Scotland V Denmark, it’s worth noting that according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies report (p9), Scotland’s projected GDP would be approx 17% higher per capita than the Danish $37,000 figure (which is almost identical to current UK GDP) & they are not in the Euro zone, but as I discovered are running their own currency (Krone) pegged to the Euro. A pegged currency to Sterling is one of the fiscal commission’s published options, I personally presume that this is probably the much discussed ‘plan B’  which is already in successful operation in a similar nation to us & a member country of the EU, perhaps some politicians can’t use google as well as an amateur blogger, it’s already been published.

So as a comparison based on the above, it’s likely (in my opinion) Scotland would have a sports development budget at least as good as the Danes, if not a little better. They have produced a nice Team Danmark pdf showing their focus across all sports & how athletes selected by their federation are included in various projects, plus an overview of the structure, this seems like a good proven & successful model to look at for Scotland. It’s worth a read.

The Eleven Danish World Tour riders:

Jacob Fuglsang (Astana), Sebastian Lander (BMC), Lasse Norman Hansen (Garmin Sharp), Lars Bak (Lotto Belisol), Michael Andersen (Tinkoff-Saxo), Jesper Hansen (Tinkoff-Saxo), Matti Breschel (Tinkoff-Saxo), Christopher Juul Jensen (Tinkoff-Saxo), Michael Morkov (Tinkoff-Saxo), Chris Anker Sorensen (Tinkoff-Saxo), Nicki Sorensen (Tinkoff-Saxo)

The Two Scottish World Tour riders:

David Millar (Garmin Sharp), Andy Fenn (Omega Pharma Quick-Step)

To put that in perspective, the UK has 12 riders in teams at that level with a population of around 65 million compared to Denmark’s 5.5 million. It would seem feasible that with a very good long-term plan & resources, an independent country like Scotland could have just as many top riders as the UK has now. It requires a culture change, coaching, facilities, talent spotting & organisation, it can’t be done overnight. But with a serious plan…

Cycling in Scotland, what changes?

Those of us involved in the sport are often found discussing the ins & outs of British Cycling race categories, licence points, rankings & the amount of races for 4th category riders. This may soon become a thing of the past if there’s a ‘yes’ vote. If so, it’s prudent that we consider what the sport would look like in a new Scotland. An independent state would mean a truly independent cycling governing body, currently ‘Scottish Cycling’ is considered by ‘British Cycling’ as a region, while ‘Scottish Cycling’ is a separate company who use the ‘British Cycling’ system of licences, insurance, coaching & structure. This whole structure would need to be re-thought.

Parts of the current structure don’t serve our smaller & more spread out population particularly well, so something that suits Scotland would have to be pursued, now is as good a time as any to look at that. While traditionally ‘Scottish Cycling’ (formerly SCU) has been mostly embroiled in road racing, that may not be where a redesigned future of Scottish cycle sport may lie. Rather than working within the constraints of ‘British Cycling’ rules, regulations & future planning, a whole new structure could be designed. The ‘British Cycling’ performance plan is based on Olympic medals, perhaps mimicking this for a nation less than a 10th of the population isn’t realistic. We could look to our natural strengths, with a sparsely populated landscape & plenty of opportunities off-road, a look at that side of the sport could pay benefits. Non Olympic sports such as downhill mountain biking & cyclo-cross have never had the full focus of a nation, Scotland is surely well placed to adopt that kind of focus? Providing opportunities in areas of cycling that are popular without governing body control, where people are riding bikes because it’s fun, not for any performance reasons. This is likely where the growth in cycling will come from, with cross-over into other disciplines highly likely, off-road development could feed talent into all areas.

Regarding road racing, if the category system was removed (this has riders grouped into ‘British Cycling’ defined categories 4th, 3rd, 2nd, 1st & Elite, based on points gained in categorised races), then we may have the opportunity to completely remodel the system. Most races could be handicapped, with only regional, national championships & series events (where you would gain your higher rankings for competition overseas), then everybody could be involved in racing, regardless of ability. The weaker riders would learn by working together ahead of the fast groups & there would be no problems with race categories. It may even give us a chance to finally reduce the number of standard distance time trials, allowing riders of all abilities to compete in bunch racing. You’d get the occasional ringer, participation would be high & handicapping may not always work as well as expected, but dare I say it, we could make the bulk of road racing a ‘fun’ thing to do!

In Scotland we have ‘Scottish Cycling’ & ‘Cycling Scotland’, which have some crossover areas. Independence would be an ideal opportunity to combine these organisations with back-to-front names to each other. That way we could have a single organisation which deals with participation, racing, cyclists rights, cycling facilities (leisure, commuting, racing), all bundled together. With a departure from ‘British Cycling’ insurance & systems, this can make a big difference to how the sport of cycling is run, along with making funding a much simpler task. Cycling tourism is another area where growth could be extensive in cycling, we have fantastic scenery, trails & roads, all within relatively easy reach of airports & civilisation. Scotland already has the infrastructure to service additional tourists, wouldn’t it be nice if organisations all worked together to promote cycling, rather than try to put in place plans to syphon off as large a chunk of the cycling budget as possible, it could all go to one organisation with the best interests of cycling in general at its heart.

Athletes Opinions

Politicians & media love to get sports stars involved in political debates, they think it gives validity to whatever viewpoint they have chosen, selectively quoting the athletes or in some cases just making it up. Chris Hoy was a particular example of a very high-profile athlete who they tried to draw-in, regardless of his comments & his desire to say nothing particularly newsworthy on the independence debate. He was mis-quoted & apparently abused online as a result. Most media didn’t report the actual words, so here they are, not exactly the Scot-hating sportsman he was portrayed as in the more sensational press, those who’ve chatted to him will know this already.

What Chris Hoy really said. “You look at the results of the Scottish athletes over the years and we have had some fantastic athletes and some fantastic results. But it would not be quite as simple as just saying, ‘there is a Scottish athlete, they have won a gold medal, therefore that’s a medal for Scotland’. Most of the athletes have had to move to facilities which are often out with Scotland. I had to move down to Manchester because there was not an indoor facility in Scotland. I went to Manchester, trained with the British team and benefited from that. The first thing you have to do if you’re really serious about it is you have to provide the facilities and the coaching infrastructure. In Scotland we have the Institute of Sport and SportScotland there to try to give support to the athletes. There is support but it is not quite as simple as saying ‘we had X number of medalists from these Games, therefore that will translate into the same medals next time’. It will take time. It will weaken the British team obviously if Scotland went separately, and it would be harder for the Scottish athletes, initially, to establish themselves in a new training environment, with new coaches, with a different environment altogether. It’s not to say its impossible but it would just be a different challenge.

As with the recent clambering for quotes from the curlers at the Sochi Games, the media crave some controversy, they need to sell online adverts & papers & require controversial headlines, regardless of the content of the story. The fact is that elite sports people probably care much more about their sport than they do politics, their goal is to perform at the highest level they can.

Do we really expect athletes who are essentially employed by the GB team on the Olympic programme to say anything derogatory about their employers, who have the power to select or de-select them from their ultimate goal? The athletes & staff involved in Olympic sport have to work as a team, so don’t expect to hear anybody bad-mouthing their sporting family, a team which they have no influence whether they’ll be playing for in 2016. This is why you’ll hear more-often-than-not that they’re proud to compete for Scotland & for GB, these people are not daft, they know the importance of team unity for their own success, it’ll not be thrown away on a whim.

It’s a tricky subject for athletes to deal with, but saying that you strive to compete at the highest level you can is usually the best option, I don’t want to see our Commonwealth athletes chased for opinions, but we will see it at Glasgow 2014, lots. With that in mind, I’ll be taking any Glasgow 2014 published athlete quotes with a pinch of salt, until I see the actual interview or a transcript. Don’t write off any athletes you previously respected who are interviewed at the Commonwealth Games, who are reported to display extreme views in any political direction. They may not have said what’s implied, remember people are trying to sell papers & direct you to websites with adverts.

I will be keeping a close eye on any mis-quoting & I’ll publish the transcript or videos in full if I can find them, our riders are there to compete, not to get involved in anybody’s political strategy. I’m not selling you anything & I have no adverts, I have no benefit from page view numbers rising, I hope to tell it as-it-is. History tells us to expect things to get very dirty around that time, from activists & media representing both sides of the referendum debate.

The Gist Of It

Research for this blog piece has really opened my eyes to understanding the process of Olympic participation of a Scottish team, plus gathering facts on the whole independence issue has been very interesting, if somewhat time consuming. Most of the information politicians are shouting about is out there in the public domain, I was previously led to believe that wasn’t the case.

It’s hard to see how Scotland couldn’t manage to have a National Olympic Committee in place in a very short period of time & be recognised as one of the many options open to nations seeking representation at an Olympic Games. If the vote is ‘yes’, then I’m very sure Scotland will be represented at Rio 2016, I can’t see a reason why not based on the information regarding Olympic participation.

As far as I can see, the Olympics isn’t the only thing that Scotland could focus on, a complete restructuring of all Scottish sports bodies could be put in place. This would allow us to start from a blank canvas, the GB team sometimes seems to lack focus on World Championships, this is something a smaller nation really can’t afford to do, an independent Scottish team would have to take any opportunity for medals it could get. Downhill mountain biking & cyclo-cross could both have a big future for Scottish talent development. These could be a focus for a source of success, away from the highly funded track medal machines of GB & Australia.

We could combine mountain biking competition & participation with tourism & leisure facilities as part of a wider plan for getting people active & fighting obesity. We have many ski resorts & locations which have pre-existing chair lifts which can be adapted to carry bikes. With a downhill mountain bike course built at each of these we could expand these resorts seasons into the summer with some careful marketing, providing the local economies in these mountainous areas of Scotland with some extra income during the summer.

The political debate is raging around Scotland, people are talking politics everywhere you go & getting engaged in debate. Sport is often very closely linked to political strategies, you’ll see this go overboard at Glasgow 2014. The competitors & fans just want to see things improve & their nation doing well, the information revealed by the WGSS should provide the information I’m looking for regarding sports funding & opportunities. I’m sure this will be a constantly changing subject, I’ll try to keep on top of it & I do hope ‘Scottish Cycling’ are considering their options & opportunities in the event of independence, but if they are, I fully understand they can’t really tell ‘British Cycling’, or ‘some blogger’.

Pista Delivery

chrishoyvelodrome

We’ve had over a year of the wonderful new Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, the facility has already had a major impact on the sport of cycling in Scotland. It’s succeeded in helping to develop our young talent & has been the catalyst for some very interesting clubs to appear on the scene. Track cycling, and cycling in general is on the up, the previously barren winter cycle race scene in Scotland is now incredibly rich, dominated by a hugely vibrant & well supported cyclo-cross race scene, plus track league’s & commercial events at our new indoor track cycling venue.

Facilities

Cyclo-cross has one major advantage for winter participation, you can find great courses all over the country. This is the big downside to track cycling, it requires a very expensive venue for year-round use, which if we look around the world, are mainly built for Olympics, World Championships, Commonwealth Games or other major events. An expensive facility requires a mixture of funding & political will, along with the much vaunted ‘legacy’ aspect, it needs the full package.

Another big issue is accessibility, a velodrome can’t be moved, we have a situation where we now need more than one indoor track in Scotland. More opportunities obviously exist for riders who live close to the centre point of training, coaching & facilities, while other talents from further away maybe never get the chance to develop at the same rate, or perhaps never even visit the venue. For some time, there has been talk of a replacement indoor track for Meadowbank, or another indoor velodrome within the University of Highlands & Islands in Inverness, these are completely unconfirmed & currently unfunded ideas, but could make track racing one of Scotland’s most successful & popular sports, with regional centres & the focal point of the Commonwealth Arena with its spectator seating & big event capabilities. If only Aberdeen Council realised that the whole Union Terrace Gardens debate could be fixed by filling it with a 250m indoor velodrome, it kind of looks like it would fit in there nicely to me & provide a great sporting legacy at a fraction of the cost of some ideas.

Public Perception

Like it or not, track cycling helped all this cycling popularity take place, in a way that other more internationally recognised areas of cycle sport couldn’t, by grabbing the attention of an uninformed British public. They were programmed to understand the transferable complexities of sports like Track & Field or F1, those viewing skills transferred ideally to track cycling for the general public, they came to understand it. The public are only now coming to terms with road racing, but I still wonder why downhill mountain bike racing hasn’t grabbed a much wider UK audience, viewers know all about those transferable sporting complexities from watching Ski Sunday for years, it’s made for TV (we’ll not go into how Graeme Obree’s position was as a direct result of watching Ski Sunday just yet).

Having a velodrome makes a big difference, it provides a centre piece for a sport like no other cycling venue can, as happened in Manchester. It can create it’s only mini centre of industry, with coaching, governance, racing, training, sports medicine, anti-doping, all under one roof, then expands into not just a track cycling facility, Manchester also now houses an indoor bmx track. We can safely say, that without the Manchester Velodrome there wouldn’t be a succesful British Cycling presence at the Worlds & Olympics, leading to no team Sky & still no British Tour de France win, we’d still have our ‘mavericks’, but there wouldn’t be the strength in-depth & guaranteed medals at every major track event. Imagine a scene that never had Hoy, Wiggins, Cav or Pendleton, the successful use of a venue led to all these riders competing at their best on the world stage, it led to high level sponsorship & the popularity of cycling to the masses in the UK. We’d all still be considered more of a bunch of oddballs & the car driving masses would view us in even less esteem than they currently do, without the figures of Hoy & Wiggins to cloud their judgement.

Users

Glasgow’s Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome is still in the development phase, with the Commonwealth Games taking understandable preference, take London for example, it’s still not open to the public after the 2012 Olympics & never was before, so we’re quite lucky really. There was initially a big question mark over public usage, with absolutely no previous data available for this specific type of facility in Scotland, the resulting demand was massive & perhaps unexpected by the authorities. The UK cycling boom was only just beginning when plans for this velodrome were written, so nobody really expected how it would take off, unless you were a cyclist & had seen the effect at Manchester, you knew all too well.

The accreditation slots were getting booked in crazy numbers, vastly more than expected, by most accounts the systems in place couldn’t handle it. By now it’s smoothed out a bit more & thousands of riders have gone through an accreditation process, to either get a taster of track racing or continue on through the accreditation to become a ‘qualified’ track rider, allowed to ride in competitive events  take part in open training sessions.

If you want to get involved, you can register for accreditation HERE. But calling the velodrome is also advised, as sometimes you’ll need to speak to somebody to get a slot.

Interesting Clubs

Traditionally, the Scottish track scene has been dominated by the ‘City’, the all-powerful City of Edinburgh Racing Club. They were also a major power & influence on the whole UK track scene, virtually every successful Scottish rider wore a white, black & blue skinsuit at some point. Their roster has included Olympic, World, Commonwealth & UK champions, to name a few you may have heard of, Chris Hoy, Craig MacLean, Jason Queely, James McCallum, Kate Cullen, Anthony ‘Jocko’ Stirrat, Charline Joiner, Jenny Davis, Peter Jacques, John Paul, Marco Librizzi, Bruce Croall etc. The club currently contains one of the biggest cycling talents Scotland may have ever seen, Katie Archibald (although we expect her to move to the Wiggle Honda team or similar in 2014), the current European Team Pursuit champion & looking like a potential world champion in 2014, possibly in more than one event. Their domination was centred around having the facility at Meadowbank available to them & having the support & drive to push themselves forward, without that they would never have reached those levels, let alone even existed. Another example of a facility shaping destiny, where would we be if Chris Hoy had taken up rowing instead if he didn’t have Meadowbank to train on?

We now have some opposition to that domination, we have some new clubs popping up, which can only improve the race scene for the better. It may mean that Scottish medals are now well out of the reach of the ‘clubman’, with well supported specific race clubs using more advanced coaching & securing track time, things will be getting faster & faster.

We have the ‘Glasgow Life Track Cycling Team’ making waves in the UK scene too. They came about in a conversation between Kevin Stewart & Jake Lovatt, Stewart being a young rider previously on British Cycling’s Olympic Development Programme & ex ‘City’ rider, Lovatt the Cycling Development Officer for Glasgow Life, also a cyclist & a coach. The motive, ‘find the next Chris Hoy’! A focus specifically on track sprint events, looking to identify & develop that talent, now leads them to progress the setup for 2014 with additional under 16-23 aged riders & a search for sponsorship to allow some travel to events outside the UK. This group of riders could really be ones to watch in the coming years, especially if track time is more available to them. A rider to watch is Jonathan Biggin, who putting out world-class ‘man-one’ times for the Team Sprint, remember that name, you may be hearing a lot more of it in the future, along with some of their other riders who are looking at Commonwealth selection.

Paisley Velo are another club making waves in the Scottish track scene. This one is a little different to those above, as it also caters for normal club riders alongside its star riders like Ben Peacock, with riders racing in all the categories at track league. ‘Big Ben’ is a pursuit specialist, after realising his talent in the Scottish time trialling scene, he’s quite wisely switched his focus to 4000m, I’ll be writing a separate blog on the Scottish riders who could meet the world-class qualification time for the Commonwealth Games, of which Peacock is one. They announced on twitter that a new signing is David Daniell, who you may have seen on TV in a GB skinsuit, posting kilo times almost on par with Sir Chris Hoy himself.

The Racers are a track cycling development team (@The_Racers on twitter), with a constant presence at the new velodrome. The experienced Allister Watson is at the centre of this, having helped developed riders such as Katie Archibald in the very recent past, we can expect plenty of fast young riders to come from this setup. Gavin Murty suddenly appeared & took a bronze medal in a highly competitive Scottish pursuit championship this year, so we’re not going to just see sprinters. Plenty of these riders have been involved in other sports, so don’t be surprised if there’s some sudden top performances from crossover athletes.

This is just a snapshot, the tip of the iceberg, but for those outside of track, you’re probably unaware of what’s going on. I’m not ignoring the vast amount of youth riders racing, I’ll be profiling them at a later point, lots going on.

The Jist Of It

A well-managed & supported venue with a development programme & governing body support can have a major impact on any sport in the country. The Chris Hoy velodrome is in its infancy, but the rider development opportunities have appeared from some clubs, those who have made a decisive effort & implement a plan of action. It’s a really exciting place to be, if we can secure some other indoor ‘training-type’ velodromes around Scotland in the next few years, we can gather talent & expertise in track cycling, as we’ve seen in the past, once the facilities are in place, the talent gets its chance.

The next few years are going to be incredible for the sport, which will feed into other disciplines in cycling. A big shiny venue helps the entire sport in time, not just track cycling, embrace it & have a go. The Pista has been delivered, a few years ago you had to eat it outdoors, now it’s consumed inside & the crust is absolutely stuffed.

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Quali’s for the Comi’s – Track

* Post British Track Champs update coming in early October.

Commonwealth Games Qualification for the Scottish Cycling team, that subject littered with controversy, accusations, and now more relevant as it’s going to be in Glasgow, the home territory will surely create one hell of a fight. It’s quite early, but the coming season is very important, most of the qualification will be done in 2013, so it’s important that we know how riders qualify.

In this blog post, I’ll just limit it to the track squad, as I assume the road & mtb teams will be more difficult to predict, also it’s likely to be based on some extrapolation of UCI points for determining how many riders we actually get, so that’s for another day & further research.

Ok, first up, what are the Commonwealth Games track events we’re talking about…

Women:

  • Sprint
  • Para-Sport Sprint B Tandem
  • 500m Time Trial
  • Para-Sport 1000m Time Trial B Tandem
  • 3000m Individual Pursuit
  • 25km Points Race
  • 10km Scratch Race

Men:

  • Sprint
  • Para-Sport Sprint B Tandem
  • Team Sprint
  • 1000m Time Trial
  • Par-Sport 1000m Time Trial B Tandem
  • Keirin
  • 4000m Individual Pursuit
  • 4000m Team Pursuit
  • 40km Points Race
  • 20km Scratch Race

As you can see there’s some disparity in the events for each gender, very different to the Olympics these days, but possibly the reason is partly due to there being very few female track riders from outside the UK countries, Australia & Canada, but would be very nice to have more events, nothing we can do for 2014 but hopefully later Commonwealth Games will have a bit more equality.

What’s interesting here is that we have no omnium or madison, but the kilo, 500m TT, Scratch, Points & Pursuits are medal events in their own right, harking back to ‘the good old days’ of Olympic competition, which is rumoured to be returning.

So lets get down to the qualification process, Scottish Cycling have released a document detailing the requirements, you can download that from the link below.

Scottish Cycling Selection Policy

So the technicalities are that riders have to set the times on a UCI approved 250m velodrome, with a temperature correction set to 24 degrees (don’t ask me how you work that out, must be a BC thing). The timed events are based on the 2011 worlds podium averages, then a certain percentage is added on for each event, so we get the following qualification times required for each event.

Men (timed events):

  • Individual Pursuit: 4:30.396
  • Team Pursuit: 4:08.175
  • Sprint (200m): 10.394s
  • Kilo: 1:02.889
  • Team Sprint Man 1 (lap time): 17.901s
  • Team Sprint Man 2 (lap time): 13.529s
  • Team Sprint Man 3 (lap time): 13.95s

Men (Scratch & Points):

  • Flying Start 3000m: 3:28
  • Flying Start 500m: 30s

Women (timed events):

  • Individual Pursuit: 3:41.581
  • Sprint (200m): 11.465s
  • 500m TT: 35.127

Women (Scratch & Points):

  • Flying Start 2000m: 2:29
  • Flying Start 500m: 32.3s

The Para times are all to be confirmed, but we can be pretty sure who’s going to be riding those events already, for the woman we expect Aileen McGlynn piloted by Fiona Duncan, then the men with Neil Fachie piloted by Craig MacLean.

Who’s going to be within a shout for these places then, there’s a lot of emerging talent in sprinting with Callum Skinner & John Paul, these guys are very likely to appear as part of the team sprint squad, alongside Chris Hoy. It’s possible that Craig MacLean could line up for a Commonwealth Games without affecting his appearance as a tandem pilot, but unlikely as there will be some timing issues for the events, so I’ll go with my initial 3 for the team sprint places. I’m also going to go for Sir Chris as the number 1 rider in the Keirin & not riding the Sprint (we may be allowed more than one on Commonwealth Games), then Skinner & Paul taking the other places in Keirin & Sprint. The kilo could be interesting, the only rider who been posting times close to the qualification, is Bruce Croall, but we don’t yet know what the other sprinters can do in an event that BC don’t encourage them to ride. Or will Sir Chris attempt to finish his career with a gold medal in the event that initially made him famous, could be an exciting finale to a glittering career?

In the endurance events, could we have a couple of domestic riders capable of getting close to that pursuit qualification time if they specifically trained for it, Silas Goldsworthy & Ben Peacock? Silas got a tremendous 4th place in his first attempt at the British Pursuit champs this year, here’s his write up on Veloveritas. If Peacock can transform his TT speed into the very different high rpm required for a pursuit, he could be getting close too.

Then previous bronze medallist in the Scratch race, with that Cav boy winning the gold, James McCallum is likely to be challenging for a place in the points & scratch. I’ve just noticed the Ross Edgar has signed for a road team in 2013, the story is here on Velo UK. I think this is a cunning plan to contest the bunch races at the Commonwealth Games, he knows he’s not quite quick enough anymore to make the Team Sprint squad, so this could be a very smart move on his part, I expect to see him there, he can race bunch events, he’s regularly ridden in track leagues in the past. With the new indoor track, we don’t really know who is going to emerge, the 2013 Scottish Track Champs are likely to be a goldmine of talent, should be very exciting ot see who emerges. Unfortunately I doubt we’ll have a team pursuit team representing Scotland, the resources needed for that are huge just in track booking terms to be able to compete with the Aussies, ,Kiwi’s, English (basically the GB squad) and a likely strong team from Wales. So that needs another 4 years to develop.

As for the ladies, we have sprinter Jenny Davis, but nobody else who’s close to posting the qualification times required. Then in the bunch races theres Charline Joiner, Eileen Roe & Kayleigh Brogan, all very talented endurance riders who will surely be getting places in the Games at Glasgow. I think there’s a good chance of getting a medal with this group of riders, perhaps more likely than in the men’s endurance events? Again, there’s scope for some more talent to appear over the coming year with the Chris Hoy velodrome, so another interesting year ahead on the boards.

p.s. I apologise if I’ve missed anybody obvious in this, let me know and I’ll post some updates as time gets closer to selection.